A good Samaritan hires a private investigator to prove that a teen accused of murder is innocent. The evidence he uncovers reveals a massive conspiracy - but also shows that the do-gooder may be more than she appears.
Arthur Miller's first feature film screenplay since John Huston's The Misfits back in 1961 unites him with director Karel Reisz (Dog Soldiers, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Sweet Dreams) and a cast of considerable ability and experience in Nolte, Winger, Warden and Patton. Miller is also credited with helping to produce this movie which, while notionally a thriller, is a highly unorthodox piece of work.
Private investigator Tom O'Toole (Nolte) quickly discovers that Angela Crispini (Winger) is his main interest when he's brought by her to the small town of Highbury to investigate what she claims to be a miscarriage of justice. Crispini is an edgy, passionate woman who convinces Nolte that a youngster has been framed for murder in order to cover up a corrupt town administration. Only she, it seems, knows the truth. As O'Toole digs deeper,however, he starts to uncover inconsistencies in her story and begins to realise that she is concealing information from him, perhaps to protect some unknown outside party. From here on in, things get very complicated indeed.
With an eye to the box office, and a broader appeal, the devices used here by Miller are necessarily cruder, and definitely weirder, than he would perhaps favour on stage. His ability to hint at the complex motives behind people' lives is, however, as impressive as always, and adds to the intrigue as Nolte's simplicity and straightforward nature rub up against Winger's complexity and deceit where, like a Russian doll, there's always someone else underneath.
The supporting cast is uniformly strong, Nolte neatly turns his methodical small-time sleuth into a man dangerously obsessed, and stays the anchor for an audience faced with increasingly bizarre happenings, while Winger gives one of the best performances of her career.
In the end, and despite the presence of its two stars, Everybody Wins' eccentricities may be just too many, and too deep-rooted for real mainstream appeal.